Pyelonephritis: A Painful Bacterial Infection Of the Kidneys

What Is Pyelonephritis?

kidney infection

Pyelonephritis is a painful inflammation of the kidneys that typically results from a urinary bacterial infection. While it can be found in men, pyelonephritis most often affects women. It is a very common condition, affecting 1 in every 1,000 women per year in the U.S. The condition can become serious if left untreated, but with treatment quickly after onset, the condition usually resolves uneventfully.

Causes

Pyelonephritis most often occurs when a urinary tract infection, typically caused by bacteria, spreads to the kidneys and results in inflammation. E. Coli is one of the most common bacteria to cause pyelonephritis. Rare cases of pyelonephritis can be caused by urinary tract abnormalities or interstitial inflammatory disease of the kidney.

Types

Primary Acute Pyelonephritis

Primary Acute Pyelonephritis is the most common type of pyelonephritis. It is an inflammation of the renal parenchyma that can affect one or both kidneys and is typically caused by a bacterial infection that spreads from the urinary tract.

Secondary Acute Pyelonephritis

Secondary Acute Pyelonephritis is a more serious type of pyelonephritis that is found in women with urinary tract abnormalities or pregnant women. Urinary catheterization, kidney transplant, neurogenic bladder and diabetes can all increase the risk of Secondary Acute Pyelonephritis.

Chronic Pyelonephritis

Chronic Pyelonephritis is an interstitial inflammatory disease of the kidney that results in the production of intraparenchymal gas.

Symptoms

  • Blood in urine
  • Pus in urine
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fishy smelling urine
  • Cloudy urine
  • Burning sensation while urinating

pyelonephritis

Diagnosis

Your primary care physician can diagnose pyelonephritis, but the condition is most often diagnosed in emergency rooms or at urgent care clinics because the symptoms can have a rapid onset. Diagnostic testing usually consists of a urinalysis, which will reveal a bacterial infection in the urinary tract.

Treatment

The most common treatment for pyelonephritis is oral antibiotics. For severe pyelonephritis that does not resolve with a round of oral antibiotics, admission to the hospital for intravenous antibiotics may be needed.

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